Which sounds better? Yoga on the shores of Costa Rica, or scenic hikes through the Peruvian Andes mountains? The bliss of a hot stone massage on a private Mexican beach, or taking pleasure in a mani-pedi after a day of sightseeing East Asian spiritual landmarks? Why not all of them?!
If you’re looking to relish in both wellness and adventure, you’re in luck—because all around the world, there are unique and rejuvenating experiences that’ll have you engaging in a much needed stress-free escape from life’s rigid rules, regulations, and restrictions. From estate palaces in India, or rustic lodges in Central America’s backyard, serene sanctuaries all across the globe provide dedicated, meditative yogis, as well as the most active of outdoor adventurers, something awesome to look forward to. Connect with your inner self and thrive by embarking on a more than fabulous trek to a faraway land-- one that’s filled with enough well-deserved indulgence to satisfy all of your vacation relaxation desires. Here are nine places to go for your wellness vacation abroad.
9 Great Destinations for Your Wellness Vacation Abroad
Step away from your comfort zone by channeling up the best vibes of your higher self with a nice little yoga retreat along a beautiful crescent of Pacific coastline. Get off the beaten path in Tola, Nicaragua, at spots such as Aqua Wellness Resort, where fabulous morning yoga classes on a seaside deck can be taken just as the sun warms up the shore. You can even ride a perfect wave or two to further reach that much-desired Zen-like state, or opt for some surfing amidst some friendly waves.
There are tons of rustic-luxe, wellness-focused retreats to find rest and relaxation at in this Central American nation. Many have super eco-friendly designs and are set on top of the hillsides overlooking Nicaragua’s ocean coast. They also sit in between a diverse terrain of lakes, volcanoes, beaches, and lush vegetation. You’re even sure to spot some unique wildlife birds or howler monkeys and iguanas to further get you in touch with nature. Plus, with area spas using local materials, treatments, and techniques, as well as stay rooms adorned with lots of natural wood (some units even with plunge pools and stunning ocean views!), the secluded white sand beaches of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea have never looked better.
Take in scenic beauty and finally connect with your breath in this Southwest port city, where fynbos dominate the lush surrounding lands and wide open coastal roads allow for travelers of all sorts to get in one with Mother Nature. Jog along Sea Point Promenade, or climb up to Lion’s Head just as the light of dawn hits the horizon. Trek over giant boulders at Sandy Bay, or feel your spirits soar with an energizing drive down to Cape Point while staring in awe at the breathtakingly beautiful vistas.
Let’s just say that there are more than plenty of ways to commune with Cape Town’s great outdoors and to find inner balance at. Spots such as Bodhi Khaya Retreat Center, offer a spiritual home away from home, where guests can unwind through various Qi Gong, cooking, or yoga retreats. Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve Wellness Retreat is another dream, especially for adventurous travelers looking for elegant accommodations, organic herb and vegetable gardens, and an on-site reserve featuring over a couple hundred animal species. Spend the day gazing at gazelles, or by biking or hiking, or just by chilling out near the sparkly pool. What more do you need?!
3. Costa Rica
Just next door to Nicaragua, this Central American beauty’s national mantra reads “Pura Vida,” or “Pure Life”—and it’s safe to say that it truly is the spot to purify your inner life, to seek ultimate wellness, and to heal from the chaos of daily life. Lie out a yoga mat and retreat into the gorgeous hillside at spots such as the El Silencio Lodge & Spa in Bajos del Toro, where you’ll have the chance to take in the energy of lush rainforests as you deepen your downward dog or through another spiritual practice.
The “Rich Coast,” as it was so aptly named by Spanish conquistadors, is one of the planet’s most naturally splendid and biologically diverse regions—a more than perfect place to balance serenity with just the right amount of adventurous action. Do some zip-lining or enjoy the world’s most famous surf. Rejuvenate at Blue Osa, a beachfront eco-resort for those “seeking solace from the hectic world,” or find yourself at a nearby wellness center in the Central Valley town of Alajuela, which happens to be conveniently located close to the airport, but is still worlds enough away from the bustle of downtown San Jose.
In the mellow and isolated Santa Theresa, you’ll find Nautilus Boutique Hotel and Wellness Retreat, located right on the ocean to invite guests with ample opportunities to unwind in paradise. What’s more is that there are daily yoga and Pilates classes, surf lessons, organic and vegetarian food options, as well as complimentary in-room massages. Regardless of what you’re looking for, there’s a holistic experience and a chance to find bliss—just trek on over to this rugged eco- and adventure-tourism capital of Central America.
If a true healing experience is what you seek, head on down to this diverse South Asian country, a land with ancient origins, breathtaking vistas, and some of the best yogi wisdom one can seek. Get your down dog on seven thousand feet above sea level in Shimla, India, a popular location providing the ultimate transformative experience. After sweating your way to nirvana on the mat, be sure to check out the local terrain by foot, by bike, or by white-water rafting. Then find peace and solidarity in the Himalayan Mountains at spots such as Ananda, India’s first wellness retreat and spa. It’s located right at the foothills of the majestic mountains of Northern India on a hundred-acre palace estate—an award-winning wellness destination that’s fully surrounded by graceful Sal forests and overlooking the spiritual town of Rishikesh as well as the Ganges River Valley. It’s a royal experience for any traveler, since it manages to integrate traditional Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta together with international wellness experiences to help guests restore their inner balance. You can even further harmonize energy with daily activities like bird watching, nature walks, or golf!
For those looking for quiet, uninterrupted solace-- and the chance to stretch and meditate amid the Himalayans-- try Van Malsi Estate, another ultra-luxe experience that’s got personally customized programs catering to each and every single guests’ individual dosha (Ayurvedic energy). Spa treatments and in-room bath amenities are also expertly crafted to balance on your specific energy points, while fun fitness activities including swimming, tennis, miles of walking trails, and yoga provide even more opportunities for wellness. Elevate your spirits and return to life much wiser, not to mention more flexible, after having a nice little affair with India.
Wellness retreats in Thailand have become known as some of the best in the world, with celebrities like the Beckhams, Elizabeth Hurley, and Kate Moss all flocking to this exotic location to heal mind, body, and spirit. There’s the Four Seasons in Koh Samui, one of the nation’s premiere resorts offering personally customized wellness retreats to help guests fully unfold. Choose from raw food spa cuisine, daily meditation, chakra cleansing, special Thai massage treatments, yoga classes, unlimited herbal steam baths, and so much more. Also nearby is Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, a wellness center offering spa treatments, detox, colonics, Thai and Ayurvedic treatments, yoga, meditation, and fitness training.
Other ancient healing traditions and outstanding personal services can be found at Thanyapura in Phuket, a boot camp-style getaway that promotes health and wellness to help travelers “get more out of life" through various sports or lifestyle activities. In the past, numerous professional athletes from around the globe have come to train at the vast local area complex which features includes four centers -- a Sports and Leisure Club, a Mind Centre, Thanyapura Health, and Phuket International Academy. There’s also a Thanyamundra wellness retreat, as well as a savvy "sports hotel.”
Looking for something uber luxurious? Go ahead and check out Chiva-Som International Health Resort in the royal beach town of Hua Hin, the region’s first luxury destination health resort, or Samahita Wellness Retreat, which is located on a pristine beach in a tranquil bay. You won’t believe the choices you have on this Indochina peninsula!
One of almost twenty thousand islands in the Indonesian archipelago, this colorful country is home to lush landscapes and unrivaled natural beauty that even its neighbors in the Coral Triangle cannot seem to match. It’s also a land that is synonymous with healing and re-charging, with hotspots such as Como Shambala Estate, a uber-luxe wellness resort secluded in the forested hills near Ubud that always goes above and beyond to help guests unwind. Choose from ancient healing practices like Ayurveda and Reiki, or engage in activities such as biking, hiking, and rafting amid Bali’s most stunning rice paddies and river gorges. Also in Ubud, is the smaller Yoga Barn, a yoga studio slash holistic healing retreat slash mini hotel within walking distance to the Sacred Monkey Forest Ubud Sanctuary, as well as a variety of local shops and restaurants.
For something more modern, head towards Peppers Sentosa Seminyak Spa, a more contemporary wellness center within a stylish boutique resort in Seminyak Beach that also boasts an impressive range of wellness options -- all without forcing guests to be recluses. Plus, there are tons of nearby boutiques, galleries, trendy eateries, and bars to enjoy, so you can combine detox and utter relaxation with some shopping, sightseeing, and surfing as well! Love it.
A collection of forty islands and cays in the Caribbean, it’s one of the few places on earth where crystalline water is pristine enough be virtually transparent. Get super-duper well at Parrot Cay by Como, which is situated on its very own island and delivers wellness amenities such as beachside yoga, winding cycling paths, and island fresh squeezed juices—all with a hint of doting Asian hospitality. The rustic luxe resort is also super convenient to get to, as true tropical paradise can be accessed via just a 30-minute boat ride from Providenciales. Plus, Parrot Cay offers the world-renowned COMO Shambhala Spa, along with numerous waterfront Balinese-style villas, an incredible infinity-edge pool, and more than three miles of pristine beaches.
Boasting some of the world's most beautiful coral reefs and just a hour and a half flight from Miami, you can easily combine modern ambiance with ancient healing at one of the most luxurious and romantic places in the Caribbean. Staring into the irresistible azure waters of the Turks and Caicos islands may very well be one of the best holistic experiences to help achieve physical well-being and spiritual balance. Plus, you can also squeeze in some adventure with scuba diving, snorkeling, and lots of surfing. TCI has really got all the makings of any relaxing wellness getaway.
Offering eco-friendly bungalows in lush, friendly settings, this Caribbean nation offers travelers with a taste of serene, northern coast luxury and wellness—all at a remarkably fair price. There’s Natura Cabana where guests can enjoy clean, crowd-less private beaches, yoga classes, fabulous spas, and delicious fresh food. If you’re looking to get super wild, go connect with nature on a Jungle Spa Adventure at the Jungle Bay Dominica. Start your day out with a gentle yoga session surrounded by luscious rainforests before heading out on an island adventure, or hiking towards the hills for a breathtaking view of some cascading waterfalls. Then, end your day with a revitalizing spa treatment. Sounds like a dream.
Even more relaxation and luxury can be found at Rosalie Bay Resort, which has got everything from nature-inspired spa treatments and guided meditation sessions, to special courses teaching guests how to take their new healthy habits home with them. You’re sure to return to the real world fully rested and reinvigorated after this trip.
Detoxify and de-stress in Tecate—a.k.a a Mexican wellness paradise. There’s the Mountain Trek’s health spa vacation at the picturesque Rancho La Puerta, where you can escape from the big bad world by embarking on scenic nature hikes to reflect on life. The area is an especially nice spot to head towards once the weather gets cold—a perfectly sunny winter getaway in warm Mexico. In Tulum, there’s Maya Tulum Retreat and Resort, the go-to spot for yogis and active vacationers who want to have their schedules filled with yoga classes and their taste buds satisfied with fresh vegetarian and seafood meals. Plus, there’s a gorgeous beach to lounge on that’ll have you stretched out and rejuvenated in no time.
Another special hotspot would be Haramara, a luxurious yoga retreat located on a dozen seaside acres of wild vegetation just outside Sayulita. The structures on site were built using traditional construction techniques to minimize on environmental impact, and there is no electricity besides in the restaurant and the yoga studio—so you’ll definitely be doing Mother Nature a huge favor! With private standalone thatched huts featuring no window panes or screens separating it from the jungle, each “room” is geared specifically towards those in need of some major detoxification and relaxation. There are also tons of yoga and meditation classes, open-air spa treatments, miles of unpaved walking trails, and limited cell phone service to get you fully detached from all things digital.
The luxurious Casa Del Mar in Los Cabos is another Mexican beach wonder, where guests can experience the true tranquility of the Pacific Ocean in a resort that’s focused on bringing relaxation and overall wellness. The Hacienda-style property features yoga studios, dance classes, walking paths, tennis courts, wine tastings, and an on-site nutrition expert who help guests tailor the best restaurant-style menus using only gourmet organic products. What’s better is that it is located on a protected sea turtle hatching ground, so the ultra-open layout adds even more to the relaxing atmosphere.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.